Last week, the Lehava organization received an urgent call from a young Jewish woman, begging them to rescue her from her Arab partner who had kidnapped her, assaulted her, and was now threatening to murder her.
Bentzi Gopstein, head of Lehava, related some of the details of the dramatic rescue operation undertaken by his organization, adding that it was the fourth such rescue that week alone. "We barely had time to recover from the previous rescue and we were already on our way to the next one. The number of appeals for help we're receiving has gone up by dozens of percent recently," he says.
"These girls turn to Lehava, not to the police. They see us as capable of providing them with a place of refuge and they're afraid to call the police because the Arabs will take revenge on them. Unfortunately, they don't see the police as reliable; they don't trust the police to protect them," he adds.
"This was an especially challenging rescue. This was a girl we have been in contact with since she was just fourteen years old, eight years ago. She didn't want our help back then or throughout the years - she chose to stay with him despite the fact that he was very violent toward her. But last week, she called for our help, and it wasn't easy. The Arab was waiting for her downstairs, outside the building, and we had to get her out via the back. We bundled her into a taxi, then a minibus, and then transferred her into another vehicle, before getting her to our safe house. It had to be done quickly, secretly, and with the greatest of caution."
Anat Gopstein, Bentzi's wife, stresses, "We must never give up on anyone. We kept in contact with this girl for eight years, and she always told us that things were great, until now, when she couldn't bear it anymore and picked up the phone to Lehava, knowing that we would be there for her. It's certainly not the first time we've dealt with such cases, where the girls don't want us to help but when the level of violence increases and they fear for their lives, they turn to us - because there's no one else to turn to."
Anat adds that, "This girl is going to need a long and difficult rehabilitation, physical, mental, and spiritual, as well as legal aid and financial help. We'll be there for her to make sure she has everything she needs and to help her reintegrate into Israeli society."
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